Yesterday I suggested an intriguing appetizer: roasted olives with herbs, orange zest, and vinegars. You can’t start a dinner party with just one appetizer and finding something to complement those roasted olives requires some imagination.
Suzen has imagination. Here’s a delightful duck breast recipe that makes a super appetizer. It’s almost a mini-meal in its own right. Your guests will love the mixture of duck, horseradish cream, and figs in a balsamic reduction. This spectrum of flavors is actually easily to assemble and will be a dish you’ll truly relish.
A word about the ingredients. The horseradish cream should be mild. You can buy horseradish cream in a good supermarket. I suggest you taste it beforehand and, if you desire, adjust the taste by diluting it with a little sour cream. You want a warm taste, but not too deep a horseradish flavor so that the duck, which should be the dominant tone, is overwhelmed.
The figs in balsamic glaze can be found in good high end gourmet shops or super supermarkets. When you see it, buy two. You’ll quickly love the flavor and begin using it to adorn many of you dishes. Just a dab will do it.
Suzen’s Duck Breast Crostini
Yield: 12 crostini to serve 6 people
Half loaf of sourdough bread
½ cup of olive oil
1 cooked duck breast
½ cup of horseradish cream + sour cream as needed
¼ cup fig puree in balsamic reduction
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Slice the bread into a dozen pieces, each thin and about 2” by 3”, or enough for two bites. Brush the bread lightly with olive oil and toast in the oven until just browning.
Allow the bread slices to cool.
Slice the duck thinly into slivers, enough for 2-3 pieces for each piece of toast. Top the toast with a teaspoon of horseradish cream and smooth over the toast. Place duck on each piece of toast. Finish with a dab of fig on the top of the duck. If you want to add color, a sprig of herb can adorn the top.
Arrange the toast slices on a serving plate and let your guests enjoy. Accompany with an intense red wine.
Source: Suzen O’Rourke
One rule of life is that there are exceptions to every rule. One of my rules is that to make great food takes time. The leading restaurants of Paris have staff working 7 X 24 to embrace your palette with those velvety sauces. How can great ever be quick?
This recipe is the exception, a remarkable one. One taste and you will agree that the flavors here are perfectly blended. And they truly are unlike anything you have tasted before.
This recipe comes from a brilliant book, Antojitos: Festive and Flavorful Mexican Small Plates by Barbara Sibley and Margaritte Malfy. The twist to this book is that it offers very doable, very upscale Mexican recipes. The “small plates” idea in the title does reflect a tapas orientation. But many of the dishes in this book would make rich full entrees.
Antojitos has chapters devoted to cocktails and snacks, salsas, seafood, poultry, meats, and vegetables. Those standard titles belie the treasures they contain. For a cocktail, how about a White Hibiscus Sangria? For seafood, have you ever heard of Spiced Catfish and Nopal Cactus Tamales? Every time you turn the page in Antojitos, you stop, salivate, and ponder just stopping on the delicious idea before you. This is Mexican cooking on a level you have never seen.
Now, I said this recipe was quick to make yet it does call for 2 cups of cooked duck meat. You can cook that in advance, and perhaps have it frozen. Suzen and I used duck confit that was purchased at our local mega-mart. Or, you can pay a visit to your local Chinese restaurant and purchase lovely meat there.
Duck meat is the starting point here, but turkey, with its gamey taste, would also be an excellent match for the Chipotle-Fig Sauce. That sauce is too good to waste on chicken. Treat yourself and get an upscale bird meat for this matchless dish.
Duck Breasts Tostada with Chipotle-Fig Sauce
Yield: 36 tostadas to serve 8 to 12
Ingredients for the Sauce:
1 cup dried figs, such as Mission, halved lengthwise
1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
3 chipotles en adobo
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from chipotles en adobo
Ingredients for the Tostadas:
6 6-inch blue or white corn tortillas
1 cup corn oil
2 cups sliced cooked duck at room temperature
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco or ricotta salata cheese
To make the sauce, put the figs in a bowl, add warm water to cover, and set aside for about 20 minutes to soften. Drain and reserve the soaking water.
Transfer the fits to a blender or food processor, add the brown sugar, chipotles, and adobo, and process until smooth. Add as much of the soaking water as needed to create a syrupy consistency. Season to taste with salt.
To make the tostadas, using a cookie cutter, cut the tortillas into 2-inch-rounds. Or, using a knife, cut each tortilla into 6 wedges.
In a deep sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until a small piece of tortilla dropped into the oil crisps within 15 second. Fry the tortilla pieces , a few at a time, for about 15 seconds on the first side, or until they start to curl. Turn and fry on the second side for 15 seconds. Be careful not to overcook. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Let the oil regain temperature between batches.
Spread the hot tostadas on a ;platter and season with salt. Top each tostada with some of the duck, drizzle with a little of the sauce, and sprinkle with the cilantro and cheese. Serve at once.
Source: Antojitos by Barbara Sibley and Margaritte Malfy